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Post Holiday Health

Holidays can be stressful for a variety of reasons. I truly love the holidays, and I adore the New Year goal setting that inevitably comes. Today though, I’d like to talk about some of struggles around the holidays in hopes to shed some light on my situation, as well as offer some hope for those who might be dealing with similar struggles.

At the beginning of 2016 I was diagnosed with Binge Eating Disorder, although I had struggled with this particular disorder for many years without realizing fully its insidious side effects. When you look at me, eating disorder isn’t what first comes to mind. I’m curvy, full-bodied, and athletic. As we learn more about BED, we move away from what it should “look” like, and closer to how to help, which is encouraging.

Personally, BED took on a form of addiction, but unlike other addictions, I couldn’t simply cut out food. So I had to learn to readjust my views on food and eating in relation to my body while being in the presence of my drug of choice. All. The. Time.

I was able to seek help through therapy and a core group of healthy friends who helped me stay the course and offered grace when I inevitably would fall back into harmful habits. However, the holidays have a way of kicking my old habits into high gear. From Thanksgiving on, most of my family traditions revolve around eating. Don’t get me wrong, I love eating and for the most part I’ve re-established a positive relationship with food so I can participate without resorting to binging/restricting. But towards the end of December, after I’ve enjoyed myself and taken some well-deserved rest, the New Year Resolution craze creeps in. That’s my most vulnerable point.
Anyone who knows me, (or has read my last few posts!), knows that I LOVE to set goals. Problems can arise when I use the New Year’s Resolutions to give into my BED. I pride myself on being a body positive athlete, but when I’m in a slump and struggling, I focus on cutting weight and not eating, or eating very little. It’s not helpful for my body or my mindset.

So what do I do to combat my old way of thinking and eating, when I’m tempted to go for the shiny promise of happiness being achieved through my waistline? I’ve picked up a few mantras to get me through until I find my balance again. Please keep in mind that this is what has worked for me, and much of what I’ve learned has been through seeking professional help. If you are struggling with an BED, I urge you to find lifelines through health professionals and support groups.

1. Wait

This mantra is one I use when I feel the guilt creeping in when I overeat, or feel the desire to go to the gym for hours to “work off” the food I’ve consumed. I repeat this to myself to give my mind something to focus, rather than feelings of shame or fear that can become debilitating and set off BED patterns.

Wait. Breathe. This will pass. Sometimes I need to remind myself that I have found moderation and I can find it again. Self-control can be replenished, and just because I fail, doesn’t mean that I can’t also be victorious. I just need to take a moment, refocus on what’s important, and allow myself to feel what I’m feeling.

2. Celebrate Your Success

While working on changing fundamental habits, hard habits, it’s important to celebrate our baby-step victories. Sometimes it’s as simple as celebrating the fact that I partook in dessert, enjoyed it immensely, and didn’t allow myself to feel guilty about it.

Other times it’s choosing not to dwell on a negative, but celebrate what my body can do rather than how it looks or feels in that particular moment. There is no right answer to this process, just do your best to remain mindful of your accomplishments, those seemingly small things add up to cultivated confidence and trust in yourself.

3. Ask for Help

I asked for help in a lot of different way this past year. From coaches, from my therapist, from my parents, and my husband. I had to learn to be specific in what I needed help with, and reach out when I felt like I was straying from balance.

Sometimes just asking for help was enough - knowing that there was a lifeline there if I needed it. I get that this can be a painful topic to discuss. This is the first time I’ve publicly opened up about my disorder apart from my small support group, but I have hope that in talking about our struggles, we grow while our shortcomings shrink.

Asking for help makes us brave, gives us courage, and works to banish stigmas around disorders. You are brave, and you have enough in this moment to take the first step towards healing. Ask for help as you need, and trust that you will receive it in wonderful, loving ways.

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